Detroit Lions adjusting to life in the U.K.

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
A police officer keeps an eye on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford as he arrives at Gatwick Airport in Crawley, West Sussex, England on Tuesday.

Guilford, England — Adam Meller took Tuesday off for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity:

He wanted to see the Lions, his favorite NFL team.

"My dad used to watch NFL," the London native said. "He sat there and said watch this guy Barry Sanders. And I watched Barry and that was it."

Meller knew someone who worked at Surrey Sports Park, which hosted a Play 60 event with the Lions and a couple of hundred grade school students. During the event, Meller made his way onto the field in his Calvin Johnson jersey and met quarterback Matthew Stafford and Johnson, who signed the jersey.

The experience was incredibly fulfilling for Meller, who's been to every NFL game at Wembley Stadium since 2009.

But seeing his favorite team play the Falcons on Sunday could top it.

The Lions arrived at Surrey Sports Park around 11 a.m., where the children cheered loudly as they entered the field for an hour of drills.

"That was cool," Johnson said. "Especially being in a different country, we got a very warm reception from the guys out here. … It just says the outreach of the NFL goes a long ways."

Though many of the children lack a full understanding of American football, the event showed people can typically have fun with a ball and some music.

While many of the players expressed interest in seeing some London sites and experiencing the culture, they all share one priority.

"Win," safety Glover Quin said.

Said running back Joique Bell: "My family's coming out here. It's all our first time in London. At the same time it's a business trip, but I'm going to soak it all in."

The Lions will practice at the same time as they do in Detroit, but players will have more events to attend, including a fan festival at Trafalgar Square on Saturday.

But the key is to keep the week as routine as possible.

"We've got to treat it like a normal game week," Stafford said. "Everything we normally do in a game week, we've got to do it here.

"We've got to find a way to transition and adapt."

At the end of Tuesday's drills, the Lions gave the kids a piece of Detroit — Reggie Bush and Golden Tate emceed a dance-off for a few children. After picking a winner, Bush said, "We at The Shelter," a reference to Eminem and the movie "8 Mile."

"We have such a great game, and it's crazy that we have an opportunity to go overseas and try to expand our fan base," Tate said. "It's fun because all these kids are interested, and they want to be out here playing."

And for fans like Meller, this is an opportunity to see not only his team, but also a sport that makes a stop in London three times this season — one game in Week 4, Sunday and in Week 10.

"It's a very clever, intricate game," Meller said. "It's literally, as they say, a game of inches."

Theo Riddick takes a selfie with kids during a football clinic on Tuesday.